Caz’s Chowhouse: Where Kids Chow Down For Free.
By Natasha Ball
The Kids’ Table
Tulsa’s Brady District is a lot of things: It’s one of downtown’s historic neighborhoods. It’s a center of local art and high culture. It’s revitalizing, and fast.
One thing I don’t hear much about this part of our city is that it’s a good place to spend time with the kids, but I’d argue that this is more of an awareness issue than it is the truth. One small case in point: From 5 p.m. until closing time on Wednesdays, kids eat free at Caz’s Chowhouse,18 E. Brady Street.
It’s not blindingly obvious that Caz’s is kid-friendly. There are no giant plastic curly slides that empty into a pit of plastic balls (and who knows what else), and there’s no animatronic puppet shows or a guy in a giant mouse suit. Instead, families can find nice, roomy booths, stacks of clean booster seats and high chairs and kids’ menus that double as coloring pages. The entrees aren’t the most healthful we’ve seen for kids in town, but Caz’s doesn’t pretend to be the place to go to stock up on veggies - at least, not any that haven’t been braised in bacon fat or deep fried to a crispy, golden brown. Right on the front of the menu is a guarantee that inside is a variety of comfort foods, and they promise to do their best to make you feel at home - not skinny, necessarily, but at home.
The appetizer section of the menu makes good on that promise. We wanted one of everything. See if you can blame us: Pucker (read: pickle) chips, fried in cornmeal batter ($4.99); hand-cut fried green tomatoes ($6.49); Southwest Chicken Egg Rolls, served with a spicy Cusabi sauce ($6.99); and Great Balls O’Fire, described on the menu like this: “For the Brave! Calf Fries - Yes, You read it right...Try ‘em with Buffalo Hot Sauce if you dare!”
Given that we’d already decided to have breading-encrusted everything as our main course, we opted for a small House Salad ($2.99) and a cup of the Baked Potato Soup ($2.99). The House Salad was cool and crisp, and with thin slices of green apples, crumbled feta and sugared walnuts, was a nice departure from a restaurant’s typical go-to greens. The Baked Potato Soup was lick-the-bowl good, creamy and topped with shredded cheddar and chopped green onions.
The kids’ corn dog (actually six mini corn dogs, $3.99 when it’s not Wednesday night) comes with a choice of a side item, fruit and a drink. My three-year-old ate every bit of the mac and cheese, served with crumbled bacon on top, and he was delighted to find the “baby dogs” nuzzled in the pockets of fried cornmeal. I guess sometimes it’s tough to make the leap from a traditional corn dog to the miniature, stick-free variety, but we made it, and with an empty plate to prove our travels.
Mention Caz’s to coworkers and they’ll immediately gush about the Chicken Fried Steak ($9.99) and the Chicken & Waffles ($8.99). They’re southern classics - the CFS is actually the centerpiece of Oklahoma’s official state meal - and they’re two of Caz’s specialties. The steak is hand battered and pan fried, served over mashed red potatoes smothered in cream gravy and a side of green beans. It’s a beautiful thing, and it tasted great, too - definitely a contender for the title of best CFS in town.
For the uninitiated, here’s how chicken & waffles works: A crispy, golden Belgian waffle is topped with deep-fried chicken tenders. Then, it’s all topped with maple syrup. To be honest, it’s not my favorite Deep South dish, but Caz’s manages to elevate the taste beyond the two varieties of fried carbs, modified tree sap and the least culinarily promising part of the chicken. And the side of black-eyed peas was good in a way that I will never have the heart to mention to my grandmother, who heretofore has made my favorite recipe.
For dessert we had the Bread Pudding ($4.99), passing on the carrot cake ($4.99), apple dumpling ($4.99) and the triple chocolate truffle cheesecake ($5.99). It was served piping hot and swimming in butter and ice cream. We usually prefer that particular treat drier, on the sticky side, but don’t think we didn’t scarf every bit of it nonetheless.
Caz’s also offers a variety of burgers and sandwiches, like the half-pound Kobe Style Burger ($10.99), the Okie Po-Boy ($7.49, with fried catfish and Caz’s spicy slaw) and the spicy Chowhouse Chicken Sandwich ($8.99), topped with jalapeno bacon and cream cheese. Vegetarians, be thee not deterred - Caz’s offers a Boca Burger topped with the traditional trimmings for $7.49.
When rounding out an evening of family fun, check the Drillers’ schedule to see if there’s a ballgame at ONEOK Field - it’s just a few blocks’ jaunt to the east. Or, take a trip to the Center of the Universe. It’s just around the corner from Caz’s, to the southeast. If the art galleries and Tulsa Glassblowing Studio are open, consider it an easy extra dose of Oklahoma culture for the kids’ minds, their taste buds thus fed.
House at Caz’s Chowhouse are Monday, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Sunday, brunch at 10:30, lunch through 3:30 p.m.